Groundhog Day: Folklore, Season Creep and Climate Change
In a few days, we’ll be on the lookout for a tiny rodent searching for his shadow. This little guy determines if we can put away our coats (in hopes of an early spring), or if we’re hauling out more winter gear (to last us through March). While the events surrounding Groundhog Day are pure folklore, the story does raise questions about the arrival and departure dates of the seasons.
“Season Creep” is a documented phenomenon whereby winters become shorter and milder and spring arrives earlier than usual. And while less time spent shivering may sound like a good thing, these changes have serious consequences for the agriculture industry, animal habitats and their food sources. Many scientists attribute these incremental yet significant changes to global warming and climate change caused by human intervention.
Global warming exacerbates season creep. And in the plant/animal kingdom, season creep causes the disruption of the timing of critical events, such as animal and insect migration, snow melt, spring bloom, pollination, and other activities which ecosystems and agricultural industries are reliant upon.
Fewer days of snow and frost might appear to be beneficial for farmers, but the actual results are mixed. For some regions, a longer growing season gives farmers the opportunity to generate higher yields and experiment with new crops and variations on successful plants. But in other areas, more days of higher temperatures limit the variety of crops grown, disrupt and diminish water availability and support the growth of invasive species. And with less frost, there are more bugs and insects to attack plants and crops, and the warmer weather creates a stronger breeding ground for pathogens that carry disease.
Fewer days of cold hinder some crops, like maple syrup, which needs wintry weather for strong sap flow and flavor. With too many warm days, syrup production slows and the flavor of everyone’s favorite pancake and waffle condiment is affected.
Season creep also impacts biodiversity, which has a domino effect on tourism, agriculture, fishing and hunting. Everyone and everything suffers when Mother Nature is off schedule, and that appears to be happening more and more often, with the trend towards longer periods of warm weather and fewer cold ones.
Reducing and slowing climate change will result in a more effective and prosperous farming industry. As an individual or corporation, you can narrow your carbon footprint and mitigate global warming through the purchase of carbon offsets. Carbon offsets support renewable energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help to slow climate change. Get more information and purchase your TerraPass carbon offsets today.
And while you’re waiting around for Mr/Ms Groundhog, be sure to check out the TerraPass Footprint Blog, where you’ll find more eco-friendly lifestyle tips and information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook, where we’re always sharing news and ideas for living in sustainable, green style.